City takes lead in Fort Hill maintenance

Published 8:08 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

The City of Vicksburg will take over the maintenance and repair of Fort Hill Drive under an interlocal agreement with Warren County approved Friday by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The agreement, which clears one hurdle for the city’s proposed $2.45 million auxiliary waterline project, was approved Monday by the Board of Supervisors. Under state law, the agreement must still be approved by the Mississippi Attorney General, City Attorney Nancy Thomas said.
It allows the city to take over the road from Glass Bayou north to the Fort Hill Drive entrance of the Vicksburg National Military Park.
The agreement was necessary because the street is a county road that was deeded to the county by the National Park Service in 1936.
“This road had previously been owned by the federal government, which had an agreement with Warren County,” Thomas said. “Prior to it (the Fort Hill area outside the park) being part of the city, the federal government conveyed that road to Warren County. Both sides of the road were in the city limits, but the road itself was not in the city limits.”
She said the city in the future will annex the street, but until then, it will — “if the attorney general approves it” — take over repair and maintenance of the street.
The proposed waterline project is funded by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grant which will pay 75 percent of the project’s cost with the city paying pay 25 percent, or $841,821.
The 36-inch line will run from the city’s water treatment plant on Haining Road east to North Washington Street, where it will cross the military park to Fort Hill Drive, and then south on Fort Hill Drive to connect with an existing city water line on Jackson Street.
North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield called the project “probably one of the most serious projects the City of Vicksburg has had to undertake in an effort to make sure we don’t get caught in a situation where our main line breaks leaving thousands of homes without water.”
Construction is expected to begin in early summer if city officials are able to secure permits from the Kansas City Southern Railroad and from the National Park Service. Fort Hill is the main access to the USS Cairo Museum and Vicksburg National Cemetery, two major tourist attractions.
Park officials said last week the line will cross the drainage area for Mint Springs, which flows through the park, adding that no permits allowing the line to cross the park will be granted unless the wetlands issue is resolved.
The engineering contract for the project was awarded in 2010 to Jackson-based IMS Engineers after a landslide during construction of the Corps’ Lower Mississippi Museum and Interpretive Center on North Washington Street threatened the city’s main 36-inch water line. The line was later relocated.

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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